Legal Aid Set for Nichols

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A judge ordered the hiring of private attorneys at state expense to defend Terry L. Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing yesterday after the state public defenders agency said it did not have enough money to represent him.

State District Judge Robert M. Murphy Jr. agreed to let the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System withdraw from the case and ruled that the state Judicial Fund--made up of excess court fees--would be used to pay private attorneys.

Jim Bednar, executive director of the public defenders agency, said the decision ensures money will be available for Nichols's defense when he goes on trial on state murder charges, probably in about a year.

The Judicial Fund is expected to have about $2.7 million available for the trial. Estimates are Nichols's defense could cost $5 million over two years.

Nichols is charged in state court with 160 counts of first-degree murder in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. He could get the death penalty.

He already is serving a life sentence in Colorado after being convicted on federal charges of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the attack.

Lawsuit Over Star of David

The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi filed suit in Gulfport on behalf of a high school student who was told by his principal that he had to conceal a necklace showing a six-point Star of David, which Jews consider a symbol of faith but the school considers a gang symbol.

Last week, on registration day at Harrison Central High School, 11th-grader Ryan Green was told he had to tuck the necklace inside his shirt because it could be construed as a gang symbol. His father explained that the star was a Jewish symbol, but the principal, and then the local school board, decided he still had to conceal it.

The ACLU filed suit, arguing that a Jewish star is no different than the crosses worn by many Christian students at the school.

Swastikas at Columbine

LITTLETON, Colo. -- Newly scrawled swastikas marred students' return to Columbine High School, where two students killed 12 classmates and a teacher last April before committing suicide.

Three freshly scrawled swastikas were found Monday in some bathrooms, said Tammy Theus, mother of one of 15 African American students at Columbine.

"It hurt," she said yesterday. "They've made changes in the dress code, like not allowing trench coats. Then I see this. It's like they are laughing in our faces, 'Ha, ha, school's back in session and so are we.' "

The two killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, openly admired Hitler and staged their attack on Hitler's birthday.

The two wore black trench coats and Harris wrote hate-filled messages on the Internet, vowing death to all who had slighted him.